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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
This day will be full of symbols, so try to be extra observant and watch the world around you more directly.
Pay close attention to any unusual coincidences, and don't be surprised if someone starts behaving different from their usual character -- these are all signs that could be either discouraging you from or encouraging you toward going down the path you're on right now.
If you feel any uncertainty whatsoever about your life, today is the day when you can find the solace you've been looking for.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Laval, Quebec, Canada
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Seoul, Kyonggi-Do, Korea
Marburg, Hessen, Germany
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Cheltenham, England, United Kingdom
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Munich, Bayern, Germany
Riyadh, Ar Riyad, Saudi Abrabia
Ahrensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands

as well as Bulgaria, Austria, Georgia, Mexico, Japan, Peru, Kuwait, Serbia, Bangladesh, Latvia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Wales, Iran, Singapore, Poland, Taiwan, Sweden, Afghanistan, Belgium, India, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Finland, Paraguay,  Argentina, Vietnam, Egypt, Russia, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, China, Iraq, Ecuador, Nigeria, Morocco, Chile, Honduras, Paupa New Guinea, Moldova  and in cities across the United States such as Rogers, Sauk Rapids, Palatka, Boston and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, December 13, the 347th day of 2010.
There are 18 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 

There isn't one.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!


Xmas is almost here.
But remember the important holiday is Yule!

Storm leaves Midwest reeling

Plunging temperatures spark new fears after a fierce system cancels flights and ravages an NFL stadium.

Pipe bust covers home in ice

A Kansas City man returns home from shopping to find a winter weather oddity.

Dramatic blizzard images

The Northeast prepares for a big chill after 20 inches of snow is dumped on areas of the Midwest.

Town's battle for tolerance

Locals make big changes after a battle over Muslim graves captures the world's attention.  

Inside The WikiLeaks Bunker

You've all heard about WikiLeaks. But do you know where the back-up store for the thousands of confidential emails and documents that have shaken the world is housed?

It's at the Pionen data centre, 100ft below ground in a former Cold War nuclear bunker under the Vita Berg Park in Stockholm, Sweden. Complete with a 'floating' conference room, suspended glass corridors, lunar landscape flooring, designer furniture, and even some German U-boat engines as back-up generators.

UK may turn over files detailing murder of Northern Ireland civil rights attorney

From the WikiLeaks File:

Remind me again why it's not important that people know about the alleged state involvement in the murder of a civil rights attorney?
The Guardian:
MI5 has said that it is prepared to hand over sensitive files on one of the most high-profile murders during the Northern Ireland Troubles carried out by loyalist gunmen working with members of the British security forces.

The offer in the case of the Pat Finucane, the well-known civil rights and defence lawyer murdered in front of his wife and three young children in 1989, is contained in confidential US embassy cables passed to WikiLeaks.

Supporters of Finucane welcomed the revelation of the offer last night as "highly significant" and believe it could pave the way for a fresh inquiry into the killing that would be acceptable to the family.

Military Bans External Storage Devices

This should stop the leaks: Military Bans Disks, Threatens Courts-Martial to Stop New Leaks.
usb drive It’s too late to stop WikiLeaks from publishing thousands more classified documents, nabbed from the Pentagon’s secret network. But the U.S. military is telling its troops to stop using CDs, DVDs, thumb drives and every other form of removable media — or risk a court martial.
Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, commander of Air Force Network Operations, issued the Dec. 3 “Cyber Control Order” — obtained by Danger Room — which directs airmen to “immediately cease use of removable media on all systems, servers, and stand alone machines residing on SIPRNET,” the Defense Department’s secret network. Similar directives have gone out to the military’s other branches.
“Unauthorized data transfers routinely occur on classified networks using removable media and are a method the insider threat uses to exploit classified information. To mitigate the activity, all Air Force organizations must immediately suspend all SIPRNET data transfer activities on removable media,” the order adds.
It’s one of a number of moves the Defense Department is making to prevent further disclosures of secret information in the wake of the WikiLeaks document dumps. Pfc. Bradley Manning says he downloaded hundreds of thousands of files from SIPRNET to a CD marked “Lady Gaga” before giving the files to WikiLeaks.

Facebook Wrestles With Free Speech and Civility

Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, likes to say that his Web site brings people together, helping to make the world a better place. But Facebook isn’t a utopia, and when it comes up short, Dave Willner tries to clean up.

Dressed in Facebook’s quasi-official uniform of jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops, the 26-year-old Mr. Willner hardly looks like a cop on the beat. Yet he and his colleagues on Facebook’s “hate and harassment team” are part of a virtual police squad charged with taking down content that is illegal or violates Facebook’s terms of service. That puts them on the front line of the debate over free speech on the Internet.

That role came into sharp focus last week as the controversy about WikiLeaks boiled over on the Web, with coordinated attacks on major corporate and government sites perceived to be hostile to that group.

Facebook took down a page used by WikiLeaks supporters to organize hacking attacks on the sites of such companies, including PayPal and MasterCard; it said the page violated the terms of service, which prohibit material that is hateful, threatening, pornographic or incites violence or illegal acts. But it did not remove WikiLeaks’s own Facebook pages.

Facebook’s decision in the WikiLeaks matter illustrates the complexities that the company grapples with, on issues as diverse as that controversy, verbal bullying among teenagers, gay-baiting and religious intolerance.

With Facebook’s prominence on the Web — its more than 500 million members upload more than one billion pieces of content a day — the site’s role as an arbiter of free speech is likely to become even more pronounced.

“Facebook has more power in determining who can speak and who can be heard around the globe than any Supreme Court justice, any king or any president,” said Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University who has written about free speech on the Internet. “It is important that Facebook is exercising its power carefully and protecting more speech rather than less.”

But Facebook rarely pleases everyone. Any piece of content — a photograph, video, page or even a message between two individuals — could offend somebody. Decisions by the company not to remove material related to Holocaust denial or pages critical of Islam and other religions, for example, have annoyed advocacy groups and prompted some foreign governments to temporarily block the site.

Some critics say Facebook does not do enough to prevent certain abuses, like bullying, and may put users at risk with lax privacy policies. They also say the company is often too slow to respond to problems.

For example, a page lampooning and, in some instances, threatening violence against an 11-year-old girl from Orlando, Fla., who had appeared in a music video, was still up last week, months after users reported the page to Facebook. The girl’s mother, Christa Etheridge, said she had been in touch with law enforcement authorities and was hoping the offenders would be prosecuted.

“I’m highly upset that Facebook has allowed this to go on repeatedly and to let it get this far,” she said.

A Facebook spokesman said the company had left the page up because it did not violate its terms of service, which allow criticism of a public figure. The spokesman said that by appearing in a band’s video, the girl had become a public figure, and that the threatening comments had not been posted until a few days ago. Those comments, and the account of the user who had posted them, were removed after The New York Times inquired about them.

Facebook says it is constantly working to improve its tools to report abuse and trying to educate users about bullying. And it says it responds as fast as it can to the roughly two million reports of potentially abusive content that its users flag every week.

“Our intent is to triage to make sure we get to the high-priority, high-risk and high-visibility items most quickly,” said Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer.

In early October, Mr. Willner and his colleagues spent more than a week dealing with one high-risk, highly visible case; rogue citizens of Facebook’s world had posted antigay messages and threats of violence on a page inviting people to remember Tyler Clementi and other gay teenagers who have committed suicide, on so-called Spirit Day, Oct. 20.

Working with colleagues here and in Dublin, they tracked down the accounts of the offenders and shut them down. Then, using an automated technology to tap Facebook’s graph of connections between members, they tracked down more profiles for people, who, as it turned out, had also been posting violent messages.

“Most of the hateful content was coming from fake profiles,” said James Mitchell, who is Mr. Willner’s supervisor and leads the team. He said that because most of these profiles, created by people he called “trolls,” were connected to those of other trolls, Facebook could track down and block an entire network relatively quickly.

Using the system, Mr. Willner and his colleagues silenced dozens of troll accounts, and the page became usable again. But trolls are repeat offenders, and it took Mr. Willner and his colleagues nearly 10 days of monitoring the page around the clock to take down over 7,000 profiles that kept surfacing to attack the Spirit Day event page.

Most abuse incidents are not nearly as prominent or public as the defacing of the Spirit Day page, which had nearly 1.5 million members. As with schoolyard taunts, they often happen among a small group of people, hidden from casual view.

On a morning in November, Nick Sullivan, a member of the hate and harassment team, watched as reports of bullying incidents scrolled across his screen, full of mind-numbing meanness. “Emily looks like a brother.” (Deleted) “Grady is with Dave.” (Deleted) “Ronald is the biggest loser.” (Deleted) Although the insults are relatively mild, as attacks on specific people who are not public figures, these all violated the terms of service.

“There’s definitely some crazy stuff out there,” Mr. Sullivan said. “But you can do thousands of these in a day.”

Nancy Willard, director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, which advises parents and teachers on Internet safety, said her organization frequently received complaints that Facebook does not quickly remove threats against individuals. Jim Steyer, executive director of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group based in San Francisco, also said that many instances of abuse seemed to fall through the cracks.

“Self-policing can take some time, and by then a lot of the damage may already be done,” he said.

Facebook maintains it is doing its best.

“In the same way that efforts to combat bullying offline are not 100 percent successful, the efforts to stop people from saying something offensive about another person online are not complete either,” Joe Sullivan said.

Facebook faces even thornier challenges when policing activity that is considered political by some, and illegal by others, like the controversy over WikiLeaks and the secret diplomatic cables it published.

Last spring, for example, the company declined to take down pages related to “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” an Internetwide protest to defend free speech that surfaced in repudiation of death threats received by two cartoonists who had drawn pictures of Muhammad. A lot of the discussion on Facebook involved people in Islamic countries debating with people in the West about why the images offended.

Facebook’s team worked to separate the political discussion from the attacks on specific people or Muslims. “There were people on the page that were crossing the line, but the page itself was not crossing the line,” Mr. Mitchell said.

Facebook’s refusal to shut down the debate caused its entire site to be blocked in Pakistan and Bangladesh for several days.

Facebook has also sought to walk a delicate line on Holocaust denial. The company has generally refused to block Holocaust denial material, but has worked with human rights groups to take down some content linked to organizations or groups, like the government of Iran, for which Holocaust denial is part of a larger campaign against Jews.

“Obviously we disagree with them on Holocaust denial,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. But Rabbi Cooper said Facebook had done a better job than many other major Web sites in developing a thoughtful policy on hate and harassment.

The soft-spoken Mr. Willner, who on his own Facebook page describes his political views as “turning swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks,” makes for an unlikely enforcer. An archaeology and anthropology major in college, he said that while he loved his job, he did not love watching so much of the underbelly of Facebook.

“I handle it by focusing on the fact that what we do matters,” he said.

On The Job

Experts forecast boom times for health care and technology, among other fields.

Americans like electing dumbfucks

The first "Tea Party" person to be elected sends county into bankruptcy

Facing a huge budget deficit when he took office in January, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano did not impose a hiring freeze. He did not stop borrowing to subsidize some of the richest school districts in the country. He did not eliminate the Police Department’s beloved mounted unit.

Instead, Mr. Mangano, a repugican who won one of the first upsets of the Tea Party era, did what he had promised: He cut taxes, adding $40 million to the county’s deficit, which has since reached nearly $350 million.
Now, with its bonds suddenly downgraded and a state oversight agency preparing to seize its checkbook and credit cards, Nassau is on the verge of a full-fledged fiscal crisis.

Twenty-somethings create own jobs

In today's economy, you can't just wait around for someone to hire you, say young entrepreneurs.

Repugican Xmas


A Review: 2010's biggest political issues

Unemployment dominated interest leading up to the midterm elections, but attention has since shifted. 

German city to trim budget deficit with "sex tax"

Challenged with a 100 million euro ($133 million) deficit, one western German city has introduced a day tax on prostitutes to help whittle down its budget gap.

The new "pleasure tax" requires prostitutes in Dortmund to purchase a 6 euro "day ticket" for each day they work, or face a potential fine. 

The city estimates that the new tax will add some 750,000 euros to its coffers each year.

Time for U.S. sales tax?

As officials in Washington struggle to fix the nation's budget ills, Yahoo! readers weigh in.  

Tax deal raises mortgage rates

Home buyers are getting squeezed due to fears that tax cuts will boost the deficit.  

Credit cards and credit scores

If your card has no spending limit, credit bureaus may lower your score unfairly. 

The truth be told


The truth be told (Part Deux)


Threat to health care reform

A judge strikes down a key part of the overhaul, putting it one step closer to the Supreme Court.  



Bad Cops

Hundreds of New Jersey cops tragically lose their reliable source for steroids

Black teen who filmed an LAUSD campus cop hitting a student faces bizarre charges and years in prison

Connecticut police officer allowed to remain on force after stealing images of arrested man's girlfriend from cellphone

New York cop gets 18 months for false traffic stops and false police reports

Texas cop, misidentified as "former police officer" in headline, is arrested on sex assault charge

Boston police officer accused of assault

Dumb Crooks

A Springfield man has apparently learned that it's not a great idea to throw a half-eaten cheeseburger into someone's face a ' especially if that someone is a police officer who is pursuing you.

Three men were caught red-handed as they allegedly tried to steal marijuana plants from a police logistics facility in Victoria, Australia, The Herald Sun reported Monday.

Pilot's stunning deception

A "Superman" figure who doubled as a high-flying medical expert and airline captain hid a startling secret.  

While the TSA is attacking privacy, 16 year old stows away in plane wheel well and falls to his death

It's all about security theater.
Keating held a press conference Friday after police searched a wooded area in Milton near where Tisdale's body was found last month. Along a path a Boston-bound plane would have taken while approaching the city, they found dark sneakers with white stripes and a red shirt matching clothing Tisdale's family said he'd worn, Keating said.

Keating said an autopsy showed trauma to Tisdale's body "was consistent with a fall from a significant height."

Investigators also discovered a handprint in grease inside the wheel well on the left side of a Boeing 737 that took off from Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 15, the night Tisdale's body was found, Keating said.

Wizard of Id


Prehistoric People Ate Each Other, Bones Show

Prehistoric humans, along with Neanderthals and Homo antecessor, made meals of each other, suggests new research on probable human teeth marks found on prehistoric human bones.

The findings, which will be published in the January issue of The Journal of Human Evolution, support prior theories that the first humans to re-colonize Britain after the last ice age practiced nutritional cannibalism 12,000 years ago at a site called Gough's Cave in what is now Somerset, England.
A new method of identifying human gnaw marks on bones suggest early humans got nutrition from each other's flesh. 

Awesome Pictures


The Bizarre Belgradchik Rocks


The western slopes of the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria are home to a bizarre rock formation which has fascinated and intrigued both locals and visitors alike for thousands of years. Often reaching several hundred meters in height the Belgradchik Rocks vary in shade, as do the many legends which surround them.

Awesome Pictures (Part Deux)


Culinary DeLites

If you're a fan of beef and broccoli you'll love this stroganoff version with noodles.  

The worst foods of 2010

The competition for meals packed with calories and fat was fierce this year.  

Fitness habits shift for 2011

The common resolution to exercise more is expected to play out differently in 2011.  

You do the math

Wow, what a bargain ... Not!

Fastest-growing small towns

Thanks to military jobs, one far-flung city can call itself the fastest-growing town in America.  

Girl returns $2,000 taken from handyman

A Florida man treated his lost wallet like a lost dog, putting up fliers, creating a website and even studying surveillance footage to figure out what happened to his $2,000 in cash.



'Milocinek' - The 31-Foot Tall Snowman

This 31-foot behemoth - dubbed 'Milocinek' - is casting a long, frigid shadow over Trzebnica, Poland. A group of 'bored' Poles started building him one day - and then decided they would just keep going. Six days later, they hunted down a barrel for a hat and a traffic cone for a nose, and their work was done.

RIP Mr. Pop N. Fresh

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71. Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours. Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and described Doughboy lovingly as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he was still a crusty old man and was considered a roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, two children, John Dough and Jane Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He also is survived by his elderly dad, Pop Tart. The funeral was held at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Public Fountain Dispenses Sparkling Water

Paris is offering free sparkling water to promote tap water and to dissuade its residents from overuse of plastic bottles. The fountain in the Jardin de Reuilly is connected to the public water system and uses six taps to provide both sparkling and flat water.
“We chill the water between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius,” said Philippe Burguière, the spokesman for Eau de Paris, “and then we inject carbon dioxide into regular tap water to make the bubbles thin and tasty.”
At about 128 litres (about 34 gallons) per person each year the French consume one of the highest per capita amounts of bottled water in the world. In northern Italy 215 similar fountains have been installed and have proven to be very popular.

The Color Of 2011?

What color will next year be? Reddish-pink color, dubbed 'honeysuckle,' is picked as hot hue in fashion and homes for 2011.
"Honeysuckle" is the color of 2011 chosen by Pantone Color Institute, the research arm of Pantone Inc., the company that largely sets color standards for the fashion and home industries.
The reddish pink shade lights a fire to your senses and revs you up, says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.
How does it compare to this year's color?
It's much livelier than 2010's color of the year: turquoise.
The good news for fashion hounds:
It can be worn for casual and formal occasions and it's not limited to spring and summer.
Here's the good/bad news from the folks at Cuisinart:
An ice-cream maker will be offered in honeysuckle, but there are no plans for a coffee maker or food processor.
Here it is. Get used to it. If you want to redesign your web site, it's AKA hex D65076.

Scientists Create World's Smallest Battery

A research team by Jianyu Huang (pictured) at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque claims to have developed the world’s smallest battery:
It consists of a bulk lithium cobalt cathode three millimeters long, an ionic liquid electrolyte, and has as its anode a single tin oxide (Sn02) nanowire 10 nanometers long and 100 nanometers in diameter – that’s one seven-thousandth the thickness of a human hair.
The battery was made inside a transmission electron microscope, allowing the scientists to study it while it was charging:
By following the progression of the lithium ions as they travel along the nanowire, the researchers found that during charging the tin oxide nanowire rod nearly doubles in length. This is far more than its diameter increases and could help avoid short circuits that may shorten battery life. This unexpected finding goes against the common belief of workers in the field that batteries swell across their diameter, not longitudinally.



The Most Beautifully Colored Animals

New lemur found in Madagascar

New species of lemur found in Madagascar  
A species of fork-marked lemur believed to be new to science has been found in the forests of Madagascar.

Town's mascot killed by hunter

A Pennsylvania community is in mourning after their beloved local mascot - a tame 399kg black bear - was killed by a hunter.

David Price and several hunting buddies used crossbows to shoot dead Bozo the bear in the animal's Poconos habitat, a state-sanctioned area, during hunting season on November 15.

Authorities say Price did nothing wrong in killing the biggest black bear ever taken down in state history, but Bozo's death has enraged members of the public.

Picture Painting Chimp Earns Fame, But Not Freedom

Photo: O Globo
For most of his 27 years, Jimmy the chimpanzee has been kept under lock and key, allowed only to dream of the world beyond the confines of his enclosure at a small zoo in Rio de Janeiro. With no companion and little to do to pass the time, Jimmy had become understandably depressed -- that is, until he discovered the joy of painting. But despite receiving national acclaim for his uncanny artistic ability, and becoming a household name in Brazil, the results of Jimmy's latest bid for a better life may add a little gloom to his palette.

Animal Pictures

Have you ever wondered what your dog's face looked like when he's shaking his head?